Alexandra Jones

Alex Jones was born in Liverpool in the 1980s to a working class, Irish-Catholic family – a lineage that’s difficult to avoid if born in Liverpool in the 1980s. She completed a BA in English Language with Linguistics at The University of Sheffield and has worked in education for ten years, writing fiction in her spare time. She decided to embark on an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths after completing a really good book that no one wanted to publish, which on closer inspection, turned out to be a really mediocre book that no one wanted to publish. Alex doesn’t have any social media accounts, or even a proper telly, but you can email her on


A Very Bad Day 


Bertie Hubble had been determined to hang himself all morning, but the task was proving rather more difficult to accomplish than he had anticipated. He hadn’t even got the skipping rope down from the top shelf of the fitted wardrobe, when someone on the street below pressed his buzzer. No need to answer, thought Bertie. Obviously. But they buzzed again, and again. Each small trill prodded Bertie with guilt; perhaps it was something important. He stopped rummaging amongst the plastic Christmas decorations and boxes of old photographs and padded over to the intercom in his stockinged feet. 


‘Parcel for 2B,’ announced a voice with a vaguely Eastern European twang, ‘please can you sign?’

‘This is 3B.’ Bertie explained. 

‘Yes sir, 2B is no answer, please can you sign, if I don’t deliver, they don’t pay.’ he said.

Bertie was well aware of these unscrupulous courier companies and felt dreadfully for the poor man. Or possibly he felt dreadfully in general and, aware that there was no time constraint on today’s short to-do list, felt unable to say no.  

‘I’ll just be a sec.’ 

He pulled on his shoes, put the door on the latch and plodded down two flights of stairs to accept the parcel. 

As he descended, he recalled the day he had decided to steal the skipping rope from the PE cupboard of Bovington Gurney Primary School after Mr. Clarke’s games lesson. 

Bertie loved skipping and always made a beeline for the skipping rope box during games lessons throughout years one and two. By year three, he was just getting confident enough try crossing his arms on the fourth beat when suddenly, he discovered he had reached the age when playing with a skipping rope made him a sissy, or so the other boys assured him. 

Bertie couldn’t really fathom this, since skipping was tricky and required coordination and stamina and even boxers did it. It was true they didn’t sing ‘Cinderella Kissed a Fella’ as they skipped, but surely that only made it more impressive, since Bertie could skip just as well as Frank Bruno and hold a tune at the same time? Bertie really didn’t want to give up skipping, but nor did he want to endure the daily taunts of the other boys, which came thick and fast once they saw their words held weight. 

So, a week later, in one of the few instances in his life that Bertie could be accused of having done something interesting, he grabbed one of the lovely woven ropes whilst helping Mr. Clarke return the bean bags and coloured sashes to the cupboard and shoved it up the back of his PE jumper. He then smuggled it home, determined to continue his skipping progression in the back garden. And surely no one could be a sissy in their own back garden? No so. Bertie’s father quickly confirmed that a change in location was not what was required in order to shed the offending label.

‘Put that bloody skipping rope down you big girl’s blouse, d’you want to be known as a sissy?’ he had barked at Bertie though the kitchen widow. 

‘I …don’t think so?’ said Bertie, having not yet mastered at age seven the linguistic function of the rhetorical question.

His father rolled his eyes, blustered out into the garden, took the egregious plaything from his son and plonked a slightly deflated rugby ball into Bertie’s young hands. Dutifully, Bert tried out the oddly shaped ball, but on his third throw to the opposite end of the empty garden, it had gone over the fence into Mrs. Prewitt’s where Ron the lurcher had popped it with a single firm bite. Later that evening Bertie retrieved the pilfered rope from the kitchen bin, carefully looped and knotted it and tucked it into the trunk under his bed, feeling sure that, though he could no longer skip with it, he would one day find a good use for it. 

He opened the door to the courier, who look harried and pitiless and bald. Bertie accepted the parcel and the courier proffered the screen of a scanner for him to sign. Using the tip of his index finger he scrawled a signature that looked very like ‘Dertie Huggs’. The courier frowned at the words. 

Bertie’s cheeks flushed noticeably, then his mouth began working to assuage his embarrassment, though he really wished it wouldn’t.

‘Lots of deliveries today? Hopefully the traffic won’t be too bad for you. It’s stopped raining at least. Going anywhere nice on your holidays?’ 

The courier gave no indication of having heard a word that Bertie said and turned away, shoving the scanner into his jacket and causing a pad of those ‘Sorry We Missed You’ notes to fall from his pocket. 

Bertie called after him as he jogged back to his van. Oblivious to the oncoming traffic, the man caused an expensive looking sedan that had been speeding up the high street to break and honk at him. The courier stuck two fingers up at the suited driver and yelled something in a language Bertie didn’t recognise. The driver responded in kind with a flourished wanking gesture and a succinct ‘twat!’ through the car window. 

Hoping he might just catch him, Bertie stepped out onto the pavement to retrieve the pad and pressed his foot very precisely onto a fresh wet dog poo, soiling his shoe from heel to toe. The courier pulled his van off the curb in reckless haste, incurring a smattering of further honks and gesticulations, and drove off to continue his indentured servitude. 

Bertie stood there for a moment, one clean foot inside the doorway, the other outside ensconced in dog shit, and considered what he should do. Just then, with punctual deference to Sod’s Law it seemed, a school bus trundled past at a pace akin to that of safari park jeep, assuring optimal viewing for the passengers within. Clusters of teenagers were framed in every window. As the bus inched by, they leered and laughed and took photos of Bertie with their phones. 

One young lady, her eyebrows painted with alarming thickness and symmetry shouted, ‘Nice work bruv!’, through one of the small rectangular windows as mirth consumed the rest. 

Thoroughly humiliated and very eager to not clean excrement off an object he would no longer require the use of, Bertie decided he could leave his shoe exactly where it was. Carefully, he leaned forward, untied the shoelace and slipped his foot out. He looked down at his black shoe sadly nestled in brown shite, then closed the door.  

He climbed the first flight of stairs and walked down the short corridor to 2B where M. David lived. Feeling the cold tiles beneath his left foot, the tapping of his still-shod right sounded loud and intrusive. He had never encountered M. David, who hadn’t lived in the building long but somehow already managed to incur the services of all the other residents as parcel cosignatories. Items were delivered almost every day, and Bertie was quite sure M. David had never signed for any of them.  

The box in Bertie’s hands was quite large, but curiously light. It had writing on the side that could have been Japanese. Bertie gave the box a gentle shake, turning his ear towards it, listening for a clue. He heard a muffled click, then a strangled whistle and the box shook slightly. The sticky tape holding the box sealed along the flaps began to bulge. Alarmed, Bertie held it at arm’s length as the tape gave way with an emphatic burst and a rapidly inflating plastic head emerged from the opening. Next came small beige shoulders followed by two enormous shiny plastic breasts with bright pink nipples. The thing grew higher and higher out of the box, an obscene magician’s hat birthing a self-inflating sex doll. 

Just as it was almost fully erect in Bertie’s outstretched arms, Mr. Wiggins from 2A opened the door and stood, implacable, peering in cold judgement at Bertie and the sex doll. 

‘Mr. Wiggins!’  Bertie said, rather too loudly. 

‘Mr. Hubble…’

‘It’s not what it looks like Mr. Wiggins…’ said Bertie, his cheeks flushing a shade of pink that managed to complement the ersatz breasts in front of his face.  

‘It looks like you are inflating a sex doll in a communal corridor Mr. Hubble… do you really think that is an appropriate thing to do in a communal corridor, Mr. Hubble? There’s a kid’s bike outside Mr. Hubble, and more importantly, Enoch doesn’t like seeing naked people!’ said Mr. Wiggins, his lips pinched and white. 

‘Enoch…? Enoch your cat?’ asked Bertie. 

Enoch the cat was standing at Mr. Wiggins feet with the same look of cold judgment in his eyes. Bertie looked down at him, then back at Mr. Wiggins. 

‘Yes, my cat! What other Enoch would it be?’ Mr. Wiggins said. 

‘Enoch doesn’t like seeing naked people?’ Bertie pressed. 

‘No! He does not! He gets stressed, he can’t eat, he finds it difficult to sleep and he loses condition, so I would be grateful if you could put that… thing… away!’ Mr. Wiggins said, furious for poor Enoch. 

Struck by the idea that Enoch the cat could process the concept of robed and unrobed humans, and moreover, indicate a preference for one over the other, Bertie was momentarily distracted from his continued mortification.

‘I mean, technically this isn’t a human, it’s not even a particularly convincing-’

‘Now, Mr. Hubble!’ shouted Mr. Wiggins, his fluffy grey hair bristling with indignation.

‘Of course, yes, I’ll just, let’s see…’ 

Bertie placed the box on the floor and the fully inflated doll, with too-pink nipples and unnaturally round orifices, stared back at him with the same look on its face as Mr. Wiggins and Enoch. Bertie dithered a moment unsure where it would be appropriate to apply pressure in order to deflate the thing. The shoulders seemed the best of a bunch of terrible options. He placed a tentative hand on each, trying not to make eye contact with it, nor Mr. Wiggins or Enoch, and heaved forcefully. The doll gave way at the midriff and bent with alarming ease, bowing its head into Bertie’s crotch and activating a pressure sensitive voice recording. In an uncomfortably youthful high pitch, the doll spoke loudly to Bertie’s genitals in words he didn’t understand but, given the panting and lustful moans that punctuated the words, it wasn’t difficult to grasp the general gist. It then sprang back up to observe his response. 

‘Oh my…’ Bertie said, the flush in his cheeks spreading to his ears. 

Enoch, having seen all he could bear, rounded Mr. Wiggins legs, flicking his tail like an admonishing teacher’s wagging finger, and retreated back inside 2A. Mr. Wiggins exhaled his disapproval through impressively flared nostrils and followed Enoch, slamming the door and leaving Bertie in the corridor with the sex doll, red-faced and cold-footed.


He pushed the doll, standing on its ludicrous cardboard pedestal, into M. David’s doorway. He started for the stairs up to his own floor, then, disappointed with himself but unable not to do so, he walked back and turned the thing inwards to face the door, providing it a morsel of modesty. Dejected, he headed back upstairs to retrieve his old skipping rope.

He reached his flat, put his hand to the door handle, and went to walk inside. The door remained in place and Bertie ploughed into it, bumping his nose and skewing his glasses. Confused, he jiggled the handle. He pressed it firmly and pushed with purpose. He rattled and banged and made all the empty gestures a person makes when they are unable to admit that they are locked out of the house. Nothing. 

He didn’t have his keys, his phone, his wallet, his coat or even a left shoe. He could ask Mr. Wiggins for some assistance but that would probably upset Enoch, since his foot was still partially undressed. M. David evidently wasn’t home, which only left the girls in 3A; students with brightly coloured hair who smoked marijuana and looked at Bertie as though they suspected he was a sex offender.

Capitulation dispatched a sigh from his lungs, and he knocked onto 3A. A heady smog of cannabis and tobacco wafted out from under the door. Bertie could hear the television, but no one came to answer. He knocked again. Moving his ear closer to the door he thought he could decern battle sounds and frantic instructions. He jumped when one of the girls shouted.

‘We’re in the middle of a campaign! Piss off!’

Bertie didn’t know what that meant and considered whether he should shout his dilemma through the door in the hopes of rousing their pity, but quickly thought better of this. 

With no other options, he headed back downstairs, opened the front door and slipped his foot back into the feculent shoe, which was waiting exactly where he had left it. He gingerly tied the laces then traipsed down the high street, the protagonist in an absurdist retelling of The Footprints in the Sand parable, in which God refuses his famous spiritually uplifting piggyback because of the shit on Bert’s shoe. 

He reached the zebra crossing at the bend in Whistler’s High Street. As he moved his foot out into the road, he had only a second to recognise the words ‘Yorkshire Tourier’ written across the bus that was hurtling towards him. The seconds between being launched into the air and dashed back down onto the pavement however seemed to stretch miraculously, giving Bertie time enough to feel ruefully amused that he knew exactly how unlucky he was to have just been struck by a bus. 

The chances of this happening to a person are about one in half a million. Bertie knew this because it was his job to write corporate health and safety manuals, a job he did from home, and which had made his life isolated, monotonous and woefully risk averse. A few months previously, he had updated the health and safety manual for The Yorkshire Tourier Bus Company. In it, he had included some ‘Fun Stats’, an extra service he provided to clients at no additional cost, because Bertie liked to learn about the likeliness of unlikely things and thought others might too. This was one of the stats that he had included. 

What he didn’t have time to consider in those few warped seconds, were all the small things that had occurred this morning in exactly the right order to ensure he was standing at the bend in Whistler’s High Street at exactly the wrong moment. 

Had he not abandoned his search for the skipping rope to answer his door buzzer, or attempted to return the note pad to the delivery driver, or shaken the sex doll box, or upset Mr. Wiggins and Enoch, or had the girls in 3A not become so addicted to online gaming that they couldn’t bear to abandon their consoles for even a moment to help a neighbour in need, then he might never have been standing at the pedestrian crossing in the bend in Whistler’s high street at the exact moment that Beryl Pickles, recently qualified bus driver and newest member of the Yorkshire Tourier double decker driving fleet, approached the very same bend with nervous haste and divided attention, causing her to barrel through the occupied crossing and hit poor Bert at approximately twenty-eight miles per hour, jettisoning him into the air like a poo-shoed ragdoll, and knocking him unconscious when his head came into contact with the chewing gum dotted pavement in front of D.R. Butts butcher shop. 


Beryl Pickles was having a very bad day. 

She had been working for the Yorkshire Tourier bus fleet for just under four hours and had in the brief interval managed to establish an absolute pig’s ear of a first impression. 

Her shallow slumber had been disrupted before sunrise by an impressive mixture of English and Polish expletives as her roommate Kacper crashed about their small shared flat in his rush to get ready. 

 ‘Fucking bzdura!’ he was saying to the plug socket as Beryl entered the kitchen. He had put the kettle on for tea and was trying to get his faulty parcel scanner to charge whilst he whipped an electric shaver round his face and head. 

Beryl plucked the whistling kettle off the hob and filled the tea pot, then took the charger and the scanner out of out of Kac’s hands. 

‘Go and make the tea you numpty, you’ll only make this worse. And I’ve told you not to shave your ‘ed in the kitchen!’ she said, and she clipped the back of his freshly shorn head for good measure. 

Beryl took a pair of pincer plyers, a swiss army knife and some electrical tape from the cutlery-and-tool draw and set about performing minor surgery on the housing of the scanner’s charging dock. After some creative tinkering, the manufactures warranty was comprehensively voided, but when she taped the charging cable into the dock the battery symbol finally flashed with a lightning bolt. She balanced the scanner on top of a tea mug so that the precariously connected cable would not come unmoored.

Agitated but grateful, Kacper passed Beryl a cup of mahogany coloured tea. He grabbed the last three Hobnobs from the packet on the side, stacked them together, dunked them into his tea and put the lot into his mouth. 

‘Breakfast o’champions!’ said Beryl, and she winked and raised her brew to him as he rushed off to the bathroom to shower. 

Whilst waiting for her turn, Beryl made herself and Kacper cheese and marmite sandwiches, stacked plates into the small dishwasher and straightened up the living room. She was squeegeeing the kitchen window that ran almost constantly with condensation when she heard a renewed chorus of bilingual profanity. 

‘What now?’ she called. 

‘Pickles, I’m so sorry… this pierdolic string again…’ Kacper explained as he walked in, one hand holding a faded Manchester United towel around his waist, the string to the shower’s stop cord dangling from the other. 

‘Forgive me Pickles, I don’t have time to fix, I’m going to lose job if I am late!’ and he handed the cord to Beryl and rushed out of the kitchen. 

Beryl regarded the cord, then the hour, then the greasiness of her hair in the reflection of the squeegeed window and decided that today was very much a hat day. 

She stood at the bathroom sink washing herself with a flannel and tried repeatedly to banish the words ‘whore’s bath’ from her mind, but failed. She dressed quickly, applied a bit of mascara as she booked a taxi, gathered all the necessary detritus that proper pockets require and covered her uncomely hair with a cap that said ‘Polish Drinking Team’ on it. Kacper had gifted it to her the previous Christmas. It would not create the first impression she had hoped for, but neither would a greasy mop of hair. At least she was out the door with a few minutes to spare. 

The moderate buoyancy that punctuality had brought however, was dashed halfway to the bus depot when she realised her sandwich was still sitting on the kitchen counter. 

‘Bollocks’ she said. 

Her taxi driver Marlon, who until that moment had been furnishing Beryl with an unprompted and circuitous monologue which took in his sciatica, his labradoodle Francine, his distrust of electric cars and the moral penury of people who favoured margarine over proper butter, eyed Beryl in the rear-view mirror. 

‘What’s that love?’ he asked.

‘I said bollocks. I’ve forgot me sandwich.’

‘Oh I ‘ate it when I do that.’ offered Marlon, and he immediately began regaling Beryl with tales forgotten sandwiches which of course had all been made with proper butter. 

They turned onto Stanley Street and came to an abrupt halt. Long lines of idling traffic had backed up behind a collision at the end of the road. There was no way to turn around and no way to move forward. 


‘What’s that love?’ asked Marlon again. 

‘Nothing mate, you know what I can probably get there on foot quicker. See you Marlon!’ 

She handed Marlon a fiver and hopped out of the taxi. It was only another mile or so. She clocked the darkening clouds and decided a gentle jog would be wise, but she hadn’t made it half a mile before the first few fat droplets began to fall. When she walked into the depot, she was sodden. 

The duty manager Frank greeted her with a curt nod as she came through the door, his lips flattening together as he looked at his watch. 

‘This won’t do Beryl, you need to be on time, or you won’t last long. Maybe don’t worry about putting on your makeup, no one cares if the driver’s pretty, they just want you there on schedule, alright?’ 

Beryl caught sight of herself in a mirror near some lockers. Her Mascara had run, and the letter M had peeled off her hat leaving the words ‘Polish Drinking Tea’. 

Two other drivers sitting at a table opposite watched her over their tea mugs but said nothing. She shifted in her wet uniform and felt their eyes linger for a second too long on her breasts, where rainwater had caused her shirt to cling. Frank frowned, but rather than offer a towel, or advise a quick blast under the handryer in the loos before she got going, he said ‘Seventy-three. It’s fuelled up and waiting for you… drive nice and carefully won’t you sweetheart?’ 

‘Yes Frank.’ 

She dashed out to the bus, a green and yellow beauty, and climbed into the cabin, taking a few seconds to run her fingers over the smooth, oversized steering wheel. She fired up the engine and, as she pulled out to the depot, quickly calculated that if she kept just a couple of miles an hour above the speed limit, she’d be back on schedule in two full route cycles. 

But her optimism began to erode almost immediately. It seemed that every road she turned onto was somehow adjacent to every slowly reversing lorry in the county. No fewer than seven workmen halted her progress with a raised hand as they guided lorries or bin trucks or HGVs out onto the road in front of her. She signalled to them through the windscreen with frantic arm flaps that that she had a schedule to keep, but they simply shrugged or ignored her. One actually laughed and signalled back to her using only his middle finger. 

There was something in the air with the passengers too. A woman got on at Crickle Manor wanted to discuss her ticket options in exasperating detail, oblivious to the queue of sopping wet commuters who muttered and tutted behind her. She wondered if she bought a weekly ticket instead of a day rider each day, would it be cheaper, but if she didn’t get the bus on a Wednesday, would there be a discount? And was the monthly pass cheaper in February since there were fewer days? And what about her tortoise Jill, was she allowed on, and could she bring a bike on board, and what if she bought a reasonably large shrubbery at the garden centre, would she need to buy it a ticket too? On and on she went. 

Beryl sensed she was on the cusp of being fired on her first day for verbally abusing a passenger whose only true crime appeared to be loneliness. She punched the ticket machine and printed a day rider. 

‘It’s on me.’ she said, forcing her mouth into a smile. 

‘Oh, I don’t need one love, I’ve got me bus pass.’ Said the woman and produced an over sixty-five’s pass from her pocket. 

Next, a couple got on in the middle of a blazing row about whether or not the Star Trek reboots can truly be considered canon. They screamed at each other as they stomped upstairs to the top deck, then continued their splenetic exchange for a further fourteen wince-inducing stops. The fight reached its crescendo and the other passengers squirmed as one of the two hammered the stop bell, thundered down the stairs and leapt off the bus, a seething tempest in a spotty cagoule. 

‘I hate you Geoffrey!’ they shouted up at the top deck windows, ‘you’re shit in bed, and DS9 is the worst Star Trek series! It’s worse than Enterprise!’ 

Naturally, this propelled Geoffrey down the stairs to join his enraged lover on the street, his own fury stoked by his zeal to defend the unjustly maligned DS9. 

Still hoping to claw back a few precious minutes, Beryl pulled back out onto the road with such swiftness that she and the passengers were unable to discover whether Geoffrey attempted defend his performance in the bedroom as passionately as he began defending the crew of a fictional space station.

Beryl’s grip on the steering wheel had turned her knuckles white and her shoulders seemed eager to climb into her ears. She tried to perform some slow, calming breaths, but each exhale that came out was a sigh. So, when three teenage boys, who appeared to have had nothing but caffeinated fizzy pop for breakfast, boarded the bus and began harassing Beryl and the other passengers with cold, vicious delight, she was approaching the bend in Whistler’s High Street much too quickly, and had an aching knot in her throat and a small tremble in her lower lip. 

Her foot slammed into the break less than a second before the bus slammed into the man on the zebra crossing. The bus came to a stop, but Beryl’s foot was trying to push through the floor into the tarmac. The man was lying still on the pavement in front of the butchers. Somehow his glasses were still on his face, but they were skewed, which made him look like a cartoon. She turned off the engine and her stomach heaved at the silence that assaulted her ears. 

The lads who had been taunting her through the perspex cabin stared, slack-jawed through the windscreen. One boy reached for his phone but before he could point it at the scene, she released the bus doors and flung open the driver’s cabin. 

‘Right, you shower, sit, now!’ 

Panic was rising in her chest but the voice she heard coming out of her mouth sounded reassuringly like her own mother’s. 

The boys suddenly looked very like the children they were. With solemn haste, they parked their behinds onto three unoccupied aisle seats, one behind the other.

Beryl turned her back on them and hurried out to the man lying on the pavement. She pressed herself into a circle of concerned citizens who had rushed over to gawp and take photos to upload to Snap Chat, and just as she did, she heard the words ‘bloody women drivers’ leave the mouth of the man beside her in a mutter that wasn’t really a mutter. 

Unfortunately, this man was quite unaware how short Beryl’s fuse had been trimmed by the morning’s events, and thus the satisfaction he was able to enjoy at his brilliant assessment of the accident’s cause was disappointingly brief. 

‘Oh well done Sherlock! What a fucking astute observation! You’re quite right though love, it’s the underwire in me bra, me pretty hair, and me perfectly Brazilianed foof that’s caused this! You’re a fucking genius! Make sure you give a full report when the police arrive, won’t yer?’ 

The man’s face grew pink as Beryl shouted, and the word foof seemed to scandalise him somewhat. Beryl felt each person in the circle around her lean back an inch or two. A woman in a yellow hat who had called for an ambulance hesitated when the call was answered. She looked at Beryl for permission to speak. 

‘Ambulance! And the police,’ Beryl said, ‘make it quick!’ 

She did as she was told. 

The man Beryl had knocked over began to stir. Her fury fell away and she swooped down on him, straightening his glasses. 

‘Oh my god love, are you alright?’ asked Beryl. 

Her voice cracked with relief and exhaustion, and something else, something she felt further down, in a small hole right at the centre of herself, where too many unspoken things had been stored for too long and were now beginning to leak out of the corner of her eye. 

Bertie Hubble opened his eyes to a crowd of people around him. There was a bus driver with blue eyes and a butcher holding a chicken leg a man with a red face and two girls with their phones pointing at him and a woman in an ugly yellow hat. 

‘I… think so.’ said Bertie. 

He shifted his limbs ever so slightly, then tried a wiggle, testing for pain or lack of movement. All his appendages felt passable, which was a relief, and his glasses were still on his face, which seemed lucky, and the luckiness seemed ironic given the day he’d had. His head felt rotten; he thought he could feel a lump swelling up at the back, a small painful pillow elevating him, but all of this was quite peripheral to the feeling inside him, a feeling so unfamiliar he didn’t immediately recognise it. 

Bertie Hubble felt grateful to be alive. 

It was startling; bizarre and foreign, and so unlike the close, grey weariness that had been living inside him for years, inside his very bones it seemed, like damp in an old gable end. 

Beryl grasped Bertie’s hand and looked at him. She looked right at him. Bertie couldn’t actually recall the last time someone properly looked him in the eye, or took his hand, or even noticed he existed. 

‘You just saved my life.’ Bertie said, and he felt a smile curve around his lips and crinkle his eyes.

‘Oh…’ said Beryl, taken aback by this. She grasped his hand tighter and let out a small exhausted, relieved laugh, ‘well thank goodness for that!’

Then she added, ‘Oh love, you’ve stepped in dog shit you know.’